Zam Driver Turned Writer: Jonell takes over golf duties at River Wilds


It's pretty amazing how fast time flies during district golf and state track week.
Way back on May 15, I covered the Class B District 2 Tournament at River Wilds Golf Club. Not only did I get to see Blair High School's Easton Chaffee shoot the low score, but I also had a chance to meet up with the new golf pro around these parts — Sam Jonell.
If it wasn't his first official day working for the Stirek family, it was one of the first. By now, though, he's probably getting himself pretty settled in.
Sorry for this column's delay, Sam.
Jonell, who is from Minneapolis, was elected a PGA member in 2013, worked in St. Louis and got engaged to his now-wife Gabbi, an Omaha native. Eventually, the couple moved back close to her home.
“I was honestly burnt out from golf,” Jonell said. “I was working about 65 hours a week in St. Louis.”
The pro sold cars and worked in a restaurant, but could only stay away from the game for about six months. He signed on with Miracle Hill Golf Course in Omaha during the early months of 2016.
Jonell was there up until just recently when the River Wilds job made an impression on him.
“Meeting with Brent (Stirek) a couple times and just, kind of, seeing the vision he had really got me excited,” he said when asked why he chose to make the career move.
The golfer is looking forward to working on the physical, outside aspects of the Blair course, but also anticipates enjoying his work on the business side.
“I think there's definitely some things we can do to help make things smoother both for our members and employees,” he said.
Jonell, as you might expect, is good actually playing 18 holes, too.
“Fairly solid all-around,” he said. “I play the majority of the events in our section and, generally, finish near the top-10 by the end of the year in player-of-the-year points.”
His self-described strengths are driving and putting the ball.
“Weaknesses would be, probably, my wedge game,” Jonell said.
All told, the PGA member is looking forward to getting to know our community.
“I'm just excited to kind of see how things start to evolve over the next couple of months,” he explained, noting that the next offseason will be a “big opportunity” for him at River Wilds.
Time does fly, but let's hope that offseason doesn't come too fast. I'm good with summer and fall for a few months.

Zam Driver Turned Writer